CITY BEAT: ONLINE PURCHASE SCAMS BECOME RISKIEST IN WAKE OF COVID-19 SHOPPING

 

Editor Paul Osborne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

     The Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued a report last week informing the public that online purchase scams have become riskiest scam in the wake of COVID-19. Adults ages 18–24 reported the highest median losses ($150) and the highest likelihood of loss (56.6%) to BBB Scam TrackerSM in 2020. Previously, older age groups consistently lost higher median dollar amounts to scammers year over year, even while young adults tended to lose money more often.

     However in the past year, the financial loss reported by those 18-24 was equal to that of adults 65+. So, for those who think older residents are the ones most likely to be scammed, generally because of a lack of understanding of the system, young people are being scammed as much as senior citizens!

     “More scams were perpetrated online and yielded the highest likelihood of financial loss in 2020,” stated the report. “This is likely connected to consumer habit shifts since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic; in a survey of over 5,000 individuals that reported scams to BBB Scam TrackerSM (BBB.org/Scam Tracker) in 2020, 43.1% said they spent more time online due to the pandemic, and 57.1% said they purchased more online because of the pandemic.”

      “Scammers go where they feel they can best take advantage of people,” said Melissa Lanning Trumpower, executive director of the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, BBB’s educational foundation, which produced the report. “Not surprisingly, scams perpetrated online through websites and social media apps were the riskiest contact methods for all age groups in 2020 – including both young adults as well as older adults. “The risk of financial loss also rose significantly in 2020. Nearly one of every two reports to BBB Scam Tracker (46.7%) noted a financial loss, with two-thirds of reports (64.7%) resulting in financial loss being online purchase scams, which was the top riskiest scam in 2020.

     Online purchase scams were the most common scam reported to BBB, comprising 38.3% of all scam reports. Pet and PPE-related online purchase scams spiked during the pandemic. “Another way scammers take advantage of younger adults in particular is by utilizing a payment method less familiar to younger generations: checks. Fake check scams were the second most risky scam for adults ages 18-24 in a year where payment via online payment systems rose across all age groups. Fake check scams yielded one of the highest median dollar losses per encounter at $1,679 in 2020.”

     • ALTHOUGH I have yet to be scammed, I have been very much aware of emails coming to this newspaper, that think “Decatur Tribune” is a person’s name and the scammer sending the email, using Amazon’s name (and some others) indicate my order has been delayed because the firm needs to re-check the payment method. As I’ve mentioned in earlier columns I don’t order online from Amazon or any other firm, so it is easy to determine that my order has not been delayed because of the need for me to give the company more information — because there was no order. But, what about those consumers that have ordered online and are contacted by a fake Amazon firm wanting more information so the order can be processed? Since the item(s) was ordered because it was needed, there is not much hesitancy on the part of many people who ordered the product to pass along the personal information so the purchase can continue to be processed. That’s where the scam takes place.

     Beware! With all of the online shopping due to the pandemic, scammers are having a ball!!!!

     • REMEMBERING Ron: There is a tribute ad on page 14 in memory of Ron James, who passed away nearly a year ago. Ron was a friend for many decades as our business careers downtown spanned a lot of years — Ron’s career was in banking and mine in publishing but we alway had a lot to talk about anytime we were together because we shared a lot of memories. My thoughts and prayers are with his widow, Eileen, their two daughters and other family members and friends who still find it difficult to believe that Ron is gone. I know I do.

     • ELECTION — I hope more interest is going to be generated about the Consolidated General Election on April 6th, than what I’m seeing, hearing and reading now. With less than a month ago, there is not much time to consider all of the candidates and why they are running. Although we’ve had some publicity about the city council race, primarily because a primary was held to reduce the number of candidates from 12 to 6, there are other races, such as school board, that will be on the ballot. We always print the specimen ballot a few weeks before the election. Hopefully, that will help.

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